First published in 1801, Female Quixotism is a boisterous anti-romance and literary satire, in which Dorcas Sheldon (`Dorcasina') sets out to discover for herself the kind of passionate love affair portrayed in her favourite novels. Female Quixotism was written during a period of self-definition for the fledgeling American republic. Issues of class, gender, race and isolationism still relevant today are confronted in a manner unusual in other contemporary works, which frequently attacked romantic novels, even as they employed the sentimental and picaresque devices of the genre. Tenney uses literary references from Richardson, Sterne, and Milton, and, of course, Cervantes. However, it is as a tragi-comic parody of the limited choices available
to women in a society founded on the principle that all men are created equal, that Tenney's Female Quixotism really stands apart from similar contemporary works.